Interview with Héctor Lara about his Black and White Portraits


“When looking at an abstract piece, the spectator is the one who gives meaning to it. In a realistic one, it’s the artist.”

Héctor Lara

Hyperrealism is an artistic movement, especially pictorial, that emerged in the late 1960s. It’s based on a faithful reproduction of reality, making it almost seem like a photograph, and it’s one of the movements defended by the artist Héctor Lara.

Lara considers his hyperrealism to be an involuntary act of maximum intimacy, which allows others to get inside of him and see his vision, his experiences and his feelings through his own eyes, which are embodied in his black and white portraits.

In order to create these works of art, he reaches a degree of subconsciousness in which his mind merges with his brush and hand for many hours until the piece appears almost as if it were magic.

All of the people he has done a portrait of are people very close to him. In this post we’ll be going over the main ones:

–          “El Picapedrero” (“The Stonecutter”) shows his mining origins and the suffering our elders went through. Most of them worked in the mines of Andalusian lands.

“El Picapedrero”, by Héctor Lara

–          “El Molinero” (“The Miller”) shows his origins from the Manchegan steppe, the warmth of its people and the familiarity with which people live in the villages of La Mancha.

“El Molinero”, by Héctor Lara

–          “Carta a Lepanto” (“Letter to Lepanto”) is a piece dedicated to his girlfriend, who has made him a better person throughout the years.

“Carta a Lepanto”, by Héctor Lara

–          “Masacre en París” (“Massacre in Paris”) shows the tragic situation we’re currently going through with recent terrorist attacks taking countless innocent lives.

“Masacre en París”, by Héctor Lara
  • “Birdman” also deserves a special mention. It’s a piece based on an old Mexican myth about creatures that can transform into animals called nahuals. Héctor Lara has a special attachment to this piece as it took him over two years to finish it. He divided the whole process in different phases, when he felt he could give his maximum performance, studying in detail all the required strokes, the shape, the amount of paint material, the superposition of layers, etc. 
“Birdman”, by Héctor Lara

“It’s a piece that has required be to superimpose a greater number of layers in comparison to other pieces. This was because of the amount of plumage that surrounds the bird man, which comes from the head, neck, sleeves and the pocket on his jacket…”

Héctor Lara

What really draws attention from this piece is Birdman’s look, which seems to be changing in that moment. The gaze penetrates the spectator and takes them into the same magic world this feathered man is in. This work of art surely impacts and makes one think about what mysteries this mythological character hides, worthy of the most distinguished art collectors.

Ultimately, Héctor Lara’s black and white portraits use oil painting techniques with a very expressive brushstroke and full of substance, placed very specifically to give the piece more realism and plasticity.

When asked why he only uses black and white instead of more colors, Lara answers very clearly:

“I don’t feel as if I am wasting my time figuring out the exact color with which to paint a skin tone. Also, using different colors implies making a mix of colors and using it before it dries on the palette. Making works of art this way would require much more time.”

Héctor Lara

Héctor Lara finishes by saying:

“In my opinion, black and white portraits are much rougher and more expressive.”

Héctor Lara

Post created by Sara Sanz (@sarasanzaldea) in collaboration with artist Héctor Lara (@hectorlara_official) and translated by Andrea Barrocal Velasco (@andreabarrocalvelasco)

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